Firefighters came together on April 22 and 23 to complete the Exterior Operations Level Fire Fighter “Train the Trainer” program held at the Bella Coola Fire Hall.
The Valley has four separate fire departments, each serving a large area and all staffed by dedicated volunteers. The Noosatsum, Hagensborg, Nuxalk and Bella Fire Departments all sent representatives to complete the training, which was delivered by First Vice Present Rob Clausen of the British Columbia Fire Training Officers Association.
The training resulted in each department now able to deliver up-to-date firefighter training to all new recruits, as well as providing veterans of the departments (many of whom has been serving their community’s for decades) a chance to ask questions and glean important knowledge about changing techniques and tactics.
Each participant completed both theory and practical assessments in Safety and Communications, PPE and SCBA, ropes and knots, ladders, ventilation, fire hose appliances and streams, and water supply. This training meets the current provincial standards in the competency and training playbook regulation.
Peter Nygaard has been with the Hagensborg Fire Department for over 30 years. He started before there was an “official” department is now serving as Fire Chief. He said the training provided valuable information for himself and his fellow firefighters, as well as the opportunity to now teach it to his crew.
“Everything we do is volunteer, and I’m really thankful to have the guys I do on our crew,” he said. “Without a local fire department we’d be in dire straits as far as insurance goes; it’s a real benefit to the community.
Nygaard said he estimates he’s responded to over 50 calls in his years of service, including two at the SAMS high school.
“One was after a school dance and another was arson,” he recalls. “The arson fire was burning at both ends of the building and down the middle of the hall.”
Christina Hoppe has served with the Nuxalk Fire Department for seven years and helped coordinate the training through Healthy Beginnings.
“The funding was a $500 contribution from the CCRD and a $500 contribution from each department,” she explained. “Healthy Beginnings collected the funds and organized the course.”
Along with her fellow members, Hoppe is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She was extremely pleased with training, as were her fellow departments, and was impressed with people’s willingness to come out and volunteer their time and their weekend to get it done.
“Many of these members have served for decades and are so passionate and knowledgable about their job and are so willing and able to take new training opportunities,” said Hoppe. “As the old firefighter saying goes: Let no man’s ghost return to say his training let him down.”